Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed a bill requiring that doctors administer anesthesia to people receiving abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, you will be non-surprised to learn, isn’t about concern for a pregnant person’s health, but is based on the bogus notion that 20-week fetuses can feel pain.

The AP reports that Herbert signed the bill Monday. He released a statement at the same time to leave absolutely no doubt about what he was up to:

“The governor is adamantly pro-life. He believes in not only erring on the side of life, but also minimizing any pain that may be caused to an unborn child,” a spokesman for Republican Governor Gary Herbert said in a statement.

The bill, SB 234—you can read it in full here—was introduced by State Senator Curt Bramble, an anti-abortion, pro “traditional marriage” kind of Republican who previously wanted to introduce a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks. According to the AP, Bramble pulled back when Legislature attorneys warned him that 20 week bans are routinely found to be unconstitutional when challenged in court.

Advertisement

Advertisement

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that regional anesthesia can be used in a second trimester abortion, but it’s not always necessary. General anesthesia, which is probably what compliance with this bill would require, isn’t used unless it’s absolutely necessary, because knocking people unconscious for no reason is dangerous. Several physicians told the New York Times that the bill could also require the use of general anesthesia in common procedures like inducing labor.

Bramble seems especially susceptible to a certain kind of abortion mythology: he’s previously introduced legislation to “ban public funding” for abortions, i.e. defund Planned Parenthood under the equally bogus notion that taxpayer dollars pay for abortions. (They don’t.)

The only other state that has tried an anesthesia-for-fetuses law is Montana last year. That bill was vetoed by the governor. Utah’s bill, meanwhile, is almost certainly going to be the subject of a lawsuit.


Utah Governor Gary Herbert. Photo via AP Images